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Weekly Reflection - Caring for the Natural World

15 October 2021

Over the past week I have had the new(ish) experience of attending ‘in-person’ group discussions at the cathedral. The first was the new ‘Rhythm of Life’ course and the second was staff training around mental health. In the former group we talked about getting into rhythms of celebration and in the latter, our discussion involved talking around habits and routine of everyday life and the difficulties of adapting during lockdown. From both group conversations the role of nature played a prominent role. Going for a walk in nature and celebrating what’s around us, or if we are privileged enough to have a garden, how this was a very helpful thing for our mental health.

As you may know, the cathedral (and indeed the Church of England) is focused on celebrating and protecting the natural world. As the important COP26 summit happens in Glasgow next month, the cathedral has joined with #FaithForTheClimate, joining faith organisations across the world to deliver messages that support protecting the environment. This Sunday we are inviting the congregation to join us in holding up a banner after the 09:15 service which reads ‘People of faith for a Global Green Deal’, take a community photo with it to show our collective support, before we hang it from the Cathedral tower next week.

Part of our commitment to the environment at the cathedral is to recognize that we need to show solidarity with countries around the world who are most affected by climate change. As we have begun to appreciate our local habitats over the past number of months, we are to consider nature in other communities and how our actions have an effect on it.

It is a nice coincidence that today, the Church commemorates St Teresa of Avila who, like other mystics, used imagery from the natural world to describe spirituality. As a nun, Teresa would have worked in convent gardens where she would have cultivated herbs and vegetables. In her writing she describes the soul as a garden and God as a gardener. In the rhythm of life course, we talked about how we can cultivate good spiritual practices in our Christian lives. St Teresa describes the beginning of a prayer life to be like working soil, taking out weeds, sowing good seeds and taking pains to water the flowers so they give forth a most pleasant fragrance.

Christian teaching, contemplation and action is richly connected to the natural world, so please continue to pray that as a community we would cultivate our love of the natural world, seek to protect it and stand in solidarity with communities across the world at this crucial time.

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